Thalidomide Victims and Health Canada Reach Agreement on Key Principles for On-Going Support

Thalidomide victims guaranteed an annual tax-free payment for the rest of their lives

MONTREAL, March 10, 2015 /CNW/ - The Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada (TVAC), their advisors, and senior officials at Health Canada, have agreed on several key principles to provide life-long support for the 95 victims of Canada's longstanding drug tragedy. The principles were reached after day-long meetings Ottawa. They provide important context for the $180 million announcement of support that Health Minister Rona Ambrose made on March 6. At the core of these principles is the guarantee that all survivors will receive the financial support they need to live the rest of their lives with dignity and that all federal government payments to survivors will be tax-free.

"We are gratified that Health Canada was able to agree to these principles, and that, going forward, will ensure that the broad range of needs that survivors face in their everyday lives will be addressed," said Ms. Mercedes Benegbi, head of the task force representing the victims. "We received assurance that any process to access this support will be simple and easy to access."

Further, it was agreed that the life-long program for all victims will be managed and delivered by an independent benefits administrator.

Benegbi said, "There is still a lot of work to be done with Health Canada and other agencies across government to put all elements of the support package in place. The Task Force remains committed to ensuring that the developments of the last few days turn into reality for Canada's survivors."

When fully implemented, the government's March 6 announcement will provide up to $180 million in immediate and ongoing lifetime support. It will also include a separate medical assistance fund to help cover the costs of any extraordinary medical procedures required to treat thalidomide injuries.

Benegbi said, "We are encouraged by the frank and open discussions we've had with the Health Canada. They have, no doubt, been influenced not only by their own desire to right the wrong, but also by the highly vocal support of the Canadian public and the media outlets who have so strongly supported our cause. To all of them, we are grateful beyond words."

Canadians can continue to voice their support for the victims of thalidomide by visiting www.rightthewrong.ca, or on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

SOURCE Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada

For further information: Erick Bauer, The Bauer Group, erick@thebauergroup.ca, 416-587-4185

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Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada

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